The programme of development of Turkmenistan's oil and gas complex that was submitted to the members of the People's Council for discussion as well as a number of following meetings of the Turkmen leadership with foreign dignitaries has stirred up interest on the part of energy community to the prospects of exports of Turkmenistan's natural gas to the world markets.
Let us remind you that in a relatively short period of time cooperation in the gas sphere was discussed during the meetings of Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov with representatives of Russia (chairman of Gasporm Alexander Ryazanov), Ukraine (first deputy minister of fuel Vadim Chuprun), delegation of the world famous company Siemens and, finally, with minister of foreign affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier who visited Ashgabat in the company of heads of the whole range of German leading firms.
In particular, at the latter meeting, Saparmurat Niyazov briefly summarized the achievements of Turkmenistan over 15 years of independence putting the emphasis on the oil and gas complex and the programme of its development until 2030 adopted at the recent People's Council of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan has got a powerful start in this sphere by boosting the output and processing of hydrocarbons and exporting gas to Russia and Iran with China coming on stream soon, the president said. It is there, this sphere, that we see great prospects for cooperation, the head of state noted. He invited German partners to establish closer cooperation on the mutually advantageous basis. In this context, the President of Turkmenistan familiarized his guests with the plans of the fuel-energy complex development, including construction of the Caspian gas pipeline where German partners could take the most active part.
At the same time, the head of Turkmenistan underlined that his country's plans for construction of a gas pipeline to Pakistan and India remain in force. It also was for the first time that he announced that UAE wants to import Turkmen gas.
These statements by the Turkmen president caused mixed reaction among the heads of fuel-energy complexes of various countries and numerous commentaries of experts. As was expected, the range of views was quite broad. Some of them doubted Turkmenistan's ability to fulfill its obligations on every export route, another rebuked Ashgabat for its presumable aspiration to escape from Moscow's gas monopoly, meaning dependence of its gas transit on passing through the Russian territory.
However, the reproaches of the intention to drift away from the agreements reached with Moscow were dismissed by the Turkmen president himself. "We will remain committed to the contract with Russia. The 25-year agreement on cooperation in the gas field is in place and will be strictly observed," Niyazov said. Nonetheless, the president made it clear the Ashgabat is not going to confine this cooperation to exclusively purchase and sale of gas. Besides, no one has the right to limit Turkmenistan in its aspiration to diversify exports of natural gas. It is not by chance that while inviting German companies to participate in construction of the Caspian gas pipeline to transport Turkmen gas to Russia and Ukraine and a number of other European countries Saparmurat Niyazov noted that Russia and Germany could take part in implementation of this project on the shared terms. It is worth recalling that Gasprom received the same offer as regards the Trans Afghan gas pipeline. The Russian gas monopoly is also coming closer to realization of its plans on development of onshore and offshore fields in Turkmenistan.
As to the doubts raised by some exerts on the gas potential of Turkmenistan and its ability to fill both existing and projected pipelines with gas, this question was answered, by symbolic coincidence, by ... bowels. It was exactly on the eve of the German foreign minister's visit that a mighty fountain of gas caught fire at the giant field of South Yolatan in Mary province. According to estimates of Turkmen geologists, this field has reserves of 7 trillion cubic meters of gas. This fact answers all questions, yet there were many other counterarguments to clear all doubts.